Urgench (or Urganch) is the center of Khorezm region in Uzbekistan and a transportation hub of the whole territory. It is a city in Western Uzbekistan, and most visitors stop by to get to Khiva as it is just 35 km southwest from Urgench and the railroad to Khiva passes through Urgench. Turkmenistan has a similar name town called Kunya-Urgench (Old Urgench) which once was a flourishing city on the banks of the Amu-Darya but today it resembles more a dying town with ruins of a great past. The old Urgench started to wither away due to attacks of other cultures and ultimately due to the changes in the path of the Amu Darya river.
Modern Urgench was founded at the beginning of the 20th century and therefore it holds almost no historical sights. Urgench is more an administrative center of Khorezm region in Uzbekistan and the city serves mainly as transport hub as it has a intercity bus stations, a railroad and an international airport with frequent flights from Tashkent and Moscow. From Urgench tourists can pass further to Karaklpakstan to explore the desert “Kala” fortresses, continue northwest to Nukus (capital of Karakalpakstan) and the remains of the Aral sea or cross the border to Turkmenistan towards Kunya-Urgench.
If you get tired of the madrassahs and mosques in Khiva, you can get out to Urgench to see some more authentic modern day life of Uzbekistan. In contrast to Khiva, here you find shops, bazars and more normal Uzbek life with wider streets and several restaurants that are not designed for tourists only. The city has a big bazaar just next to the bus stop where you can get fresh vegetables, fruits and nuts and have a chitchat with the traders.
There is an inexpensive cable car connection between Khiva and Urgench running frequently and the trip takes about an hour. Taxi service is more costly but the time used will be halved.
Sights & destinations near Urgench
Page updated 17.3.2021